The Last Judgment of Hunefer

Topics: Death, Heaven, Ancient Egypt Pages: 6 (2265 words) Published: January 31, 2013
The Last Judgment of Hunefer
In the Egyptian time period, art was used as a method of telling stories about previous rulers and providing religious information and guidelines to the citizens. The Last Judgment of Hunefer is a painting that had quite a large impact on the Egyptian people and their thoughts and actions in society, as well as a piece of art that when looked at, creates a lot of interest in discovering the meaning behind it. The large amount of curiosity in the eyes of the observer is due to the fact that this painting is telling a story about an unfamiliar or mysterious time period. People nowadays may not always know the meanings behind the symbols used and as a result, may be inspired to do some research on the painting in order to discover what the artist was initially attempting to get across to the viewer. Although the fact that this painting was used specifically for religious reasons and as a result doesn’t leave much to the imagination, it is still quite intriguing to discover more about the Egyptians and their way of life. The ability of Egyptian art to ensue curiosity in the eyes of the onlookers is based on the fact that it tells a story about what may have happened thousands of years ago, which without prior knowledge may be a bit challenging to depict. Unless one knows the connotations of the symbols, they will be unable to fully understand the meaning of the story being told. The Last Judgment of Henefer is a great example of Egyptian art work from the XIX Dynasty. This 1’6” painting on papyrus can be found in The British Museum in London, England. Starting at the bottom left of the painting, there are two figures: a human who is being judged, and the jackal headed Anubis facing a scale. The scale is used to weigh the heart of the person being judged. Seen overhead, there’s a pattern of smaller figures known as the deities that the judged had to swear virtuousness to. On the bottom and middle of the painting, a man with the head of an Ibis, Thoth is recording the results of the weighing of the heart. Last but not least, as you continue left, Horus, the man with the head of a hawk is presenting the human being judged to Osiris, the god of the afterlife. These are the elements of art that can be found in the painting The Last Judgment of Hunefer. There are many aspects of the painting The Last Judgment of Hunefer that draw the eyes of the spectators. Looking at the painting, the viewer will see that there are very warm colours such as orange and brown involved. Although it has a good range of value, it is not chiaroscuro because the distribution of dark and light does not make the images appear three-dimensional. This rectilinear painting has quite a few diagonal lines that assist with forming triangles in the legs, arms, and the deities sitting at the top of the painting. The curves along the bodies of the human and the gods make this painting very organic. This is because there is an irregular shape that resembles the biological curves of living organisms. The color of the robes that the deities are wearing creates a pattern that draws the eye and adds a simulated texture to the painting. As is common in most art from this time period, the pharaoh is painted with importance. Whether he be surrounded by something, sitting on a throne, wearing a crown, or just larger than everyone else, his importance is made very apparent. In this painting, Osiris, the god of the afterlife is sitting in a throne wearing a crown and is slightly larger than the other symbols and gods in the painting. In this period, realism was not high on the artists’ list of priorities as they were more focused on getting the story told. The artist of this piece made no attempt to create an illusion of depth, which also affected the realism of the people and gods in the painting. In some ways it seems understandable that things wouldn’t be completely realistic, especially considering the fact that there are people with animal...
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